The U.S. Senate Banking Committee approved the nomination of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in a party-line vote that reflected the remaining obstacle to his confirmation effort.
Today’s 12-10 vote saw all of the panel’s Democrats back Cordray 53, while Republicans unanimously opposed him.
Despite the committee approval, President Barack Obama’s second nomination of Cordray, the former Ohio attorney general can’t be confirmed unless Senate Republicans and Democrats can overcome a deadlock that has prevented a full-Senate vote.
Cordray’s nomination has been mired since 2011 in a dispute over Republican demands that the agency be restructured with a commission to run it instead of a director and a budget subjected to congressional appropriations. Its budget is currently drawn directly from the Federal Reserve.
Democrats insist that Congress debated the agency’s current structure in passing the Dodd-Frank law in 2010, and that Cordray deserves confirmation after having done the job well for more than a year.
Obama nominated Cordray to a five-year term on Jan. 24, more than a year after installing the former Ohio attorney general in the position using a so-called recess appointment.
The president used the procedure to bypass Republican opposition in the Senate, where 60 of the 100 members must agree to allow a vote to occur on the floor. More than 40 Republican senators have pledged to block a floor vote on any nominee to run the CFPB unless their demands are met.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, has helped unify opposition to Republican demands since joining the chamber this year. Warren set up the agency while serving as an Obama administration adviser before running for office.
The Republicans’ position hardened after a federal court ruling raised questions on the validity of the recess appointment.